Another game, another loss for the Buffalo Sabres, who dropped their fifth straight on Saturday, falling to the Los Angeles Kings 4-2. Buffalo is now 0-4-1 to start the season.
Five observations from Saturday's loss:
Not so special teams
Entering Saturday's game the Kings hadn't scored a power-play goal this season. Those struggles came to an end against the Sabres as the Kings were perfect, converting on all three of their power plays, including the eventual game-winner in the final minutes.
Buffalo, on the other hand, was not able to snap out of their man advantage struggles, failing to capitalize on any of their three power plays. In five games the Sabres are an underwhelming 2-19 on the power play. For those of us who struggle with math, that's about an 11% success rate.
Scoring has been scarce for the Sabres this season. They don't need to be the best power play team in the NHL like they were last season, but they certainly need to be better.
As for the penalty kill -- that has been one area where the Sabres have done a good job this season. That is, until Saturday, ultimately costing them this game.
Fourth line foul
On Saturday Buffalo's fourth line really struggled against the Kings, especially at their own end of the ice. It seemed like every time the trio of Benoit Pouliot, Jacob Josefson, and Jordan Nolan were on the ice the Sabres were pinned in their own end and chasing the Kings.
In the second period, most of LA's best chances came against the Sabres fourth line. At the other end of the ice, Nolan led an odd-man rush halfway through the middle frame, but Pouliot wasn't able to cleanly catch the pass on the 3-on-1 rush.
If Phil Housley is going to roll all four lines he needs more production out of the fourth line. They don't bring a big spark offensively so they need to be steady in their own end. That was certainly not the case in Los Angeles.
For only the second time this season the Sabres scored first when Zemgus Girgensons converted on a perfect pass from Jack Eichel. After 20 minutes the Sabres had an edge in shots, face-offs, and hits, playing arguably their best all-around period since the home-opener last week.
For a team that has struggled like the Sabres, a fast start against Los Angeles was imperative. At both ends of the ice, the Sabres looked comfortable, something we haven't seen much of this year. Clearly, the early success didn't translate to the rest of the game.
Secondary scoring.....kind of
In five games the Sabres now have FOUR players that have scored a goal. Add Girgensons to the list that includes Eichel, Evander Kane, and Jason Pominville as the only players who have scored for the Sabres this year.
Buffalo needs production from players like Ryan O'Reilly, Kyle Okposo [who wasn't in the lineup Saturday because of an ilness], and Sam Reinhart, to name a few. You're not going to win a lot of games if you don't get scoring from all four lines, let alone a line other than Eichel's.
Okay, it's only one game so let's not get carried away but I think Sam Reinhart had one of his best games so far this season.
In the first period alone, Reinhart had three shots. In the previous four games, he had four shots. Reinhart also added a few scoring chances, including a nice play where he created a turnover and split two defenders before he was eventually turned away.